Matai Falls: A waterfall in the Catlins

Learn how to get to and see a video of Matai Falls surrounded by green foliage and moss in a forest in the Catlins on the South Island of New Zealand.

Matai Falls is located in the Table Hill Scenic Reserve in the Catlins, south of Dunedin and Balclutha in Coastal Otago on the South Island of New Zealand.

The beginning of the walk is signposted next to the Southern Scenic Route and lies approximately 18 km (11 mi) south of Owaka.

There is a parking lot next to the road at the beginning of the walk.

The walk to the waterfall is through regenerating podocarp and broadleaf forest.

The trail is mostly level but goes down into the forest at the start of the walk and then levels off. So keep in mind that you’ll have to walk uphill when coming back from the walk.

The trail can get very muddy after rainfall and because it is hard for the sun to pierce through the dense forest, the trail can remain muddy for days after rainfall.

You’ve got the choice of seeing two waterfalls when you do the Matai Falls walk: Matai Falls and Horseshoe Falls.

After approximately 15 minutes, you’ll come up to a junction where you can go either left to a viewing platform to see Matai Falls or right and walk (mostly uphill) for another 2 minutes to view Horseshoe Falls.

How to get to Matai Falls

From Balclutha (and State Highway 1), follow the Southern Scenic Route to Owaka.

Then from Owaka, continue driving south on the Papatowai Highway for approximately 18 km (11 mi) until you see a sign for Matai Falls.

The trail to the waterfalls starts from a small parking lot next to the highway.

Basic information for the Matai Falls walk

Trail length:1 km (0.6 mi) one-way
Walking time:20 – 30 minutes (return)
Trail type:Well-formed track; well signposted.
Trail condition:Average. The trail can get very muddy and slippery after rainfall.
Fitness level:Moderate
Best time to walk:Late morning
What you’ll see:Waterfalls, forest, bush, moss

Video of the Matai Falls in the Catlins

This 2-minute video of Matai Falls gives you an idea of what this Catlins waterfall and its surroundings look and sound like.


This article falls under Day Walks.

Note: Walking tracks and trails can be changed or get closed. The information presented here was accurate when it was gathered.

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